Oregon Online Poker Laws Explained

Located in the Pacific Northwest of the United State, Oregon is the 9th largest state by land mass, home to the 27th largest population of 3,899,353 (est. 2013). It’s known for its sundry landscape, which spans everything from oceanic coastline to vast forests of evergreen, highland desert terrain to volcanic mountains. Major economic resources include farming, particularly hazelnuts and cranberries, as well as ranching and wine production. Oregon also supplements its tax coffers with gambling revenue from restricted genres, including pari-mutuel racing and a state-run lottery, but throughout history, state officials have kept their hands out of casino style gaming. As such, you won’t find any online poker sites regulated in Oregon.

It doesn’t take much research to figure out that there are countless poker players residing in the Beaver State; many of which continue to play on their computers from the comfort of home. However, without a legally regulated online poker market, one resounding question remains. Is it legal to play poker online in Oregon? By examining the local gambling industry and relevant laws, we hope to provide some insight to that question.

Land-based Gambling in Oregon

The first legal forms of gambling in Oregon were the pari-mutuel sort, starting with greyhound racing in 1933, but that came to an end in 2004 because it just wasn’t popular enough. Horse race betting began with the grand opening of Portland Meadows in 1946 and continues to this day with 11 ‘hubs’ located throughout the state for off-track betting, legalized in 1997. In 1971, charitable gaming by restricted organizations was permitted, followed by social gambling in 1973. Social gambling can be conducted in private businesses or homes, so long as the county approves and no one makes a profit outside of a player’s personal winnings. In 1984, the state lottery was inducted, and is now an enormous source of revenue for the Beaver State, generating just over $1 billion in 2013.

As far as a land-based casino industry goes, tribal gambling is the only option in Oregon. The first Native American casinos in the state were opened around 1990 and offered bingo only, but have since expanded to 9 full-scale casinos with Class I, II and/or III gaming. As such, the majority of them do offer a live poker room. Multiple commercial casino proposals have been made over the years, but all were denied.

It’s pretty clear that Oregon state officials are happy to collect taxes from gambling related services, but in the same token, they do not wish to dip their hands into casino style gambling regulation; hence the rejection of all commercial casino proposals dating back to the early 1970’s.

Deciphering the Laws of Oregon as they relate to Online Poker

The Section 167 of the Oregon Revised Statutes deals with gambling related issues. The following quotes are taken from that text.

Section Text Meaning (in re online poker)
§ 167.109 Internet gambling (1) A person engaged in an Internet gambling business may not knowingly accept, in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful gambling using the Internet:
(a) Credit, or the proceeds of credit, extended to or on behalf of such other person, including credit extended through the use of a credit card;
(b) An electronic funds transfer or funds transmitted by or through a money transmission business, or the proceeds of an electronic funds transfer or money transmission service, from or on behalf of the other person;
(c) Any check, draft or similar instrument that is drawn by or on behalf of the other person and is drawn on or payable at or through any financial institution; or
(d) The proceeds of any other form of financial transaction that involves a financial institution as a payor or financial intermediary on behalf of or for the benefit of the other person.
(2) Violation of subsection (1) of this section is a Class C felony.
It is illegal to operate an online gambling site in the state of Oregon, the penalty for which is a Class C Felony. Note that, while this applies to operators (not players), it also states, in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful gambling, which insinuates that it is also illegal for players to gambling online in Oregon.
§ 167.117 Definitions (6) Contest of chance means any contest, game, gaming scheme or gaming device in which the outcome depends in a material degree upon an element of chance, notwithstanding that skill of the contestants may also be a factor therein. Poker is considered a game of chance due to the inclusion of games that involve both chance and skill.
(7) Gambling means that a person stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance…upon an agreement or understanding that the person or someone else will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome… Playing online poker is gambling in Oregon.
(8) Gambling device means any device, machine, paraphernalia or equipment that is used or usable in the playing phases of unlawful gambling, whether it consists of gambling between persons or gambling by a person involving the playing of a machine… A computer or mobile device used to play real money online poker could be defined as a gambling device.
(11) Internet means an interactive computer service or system or an information service, system or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server… An online poker site obviously involves use of the internet.
(16) Player means a person who engages in any form of gambling solely as a contestant or bettor, without receiving or becoming entitled to receive any profit therefrom other than personal gambling winnings… Anyone who gambles solely for personal winnings, making no other profit from the game, is defined as a player.
(24) Unlawful means not specifically authorized by law Since online poker is not specifically authorized by law, it is unlawful.
§ 167.122 Unlawful gambling in the second degree (1) A person commits the crime of unlawful gambling in the second degree if the person knowingly:
(b) Participates or engages in unlawful gambling as a player.
(2) Unlawful gambling in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor.
To play online poker for real money is illegal in Oregon, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or up to $6,250 fine.

Is Online Poker Illegal in Oregon?

Yes. Oregon is one of the few US states that bothered to specifically address the issue of online gambling in its legislation. Poker is considered gambling, internet gambling is considered unlawful, and the penalty for a player who commits unlawful gambling is much more than a slap on the wrist.

Is Oregon working to legalize Online Poker?

No. With no desire to regulate or license land-based casinos, plus the inclusion of legislation expressly prohibiting online gambling, it should come as no surprise that lawmakers aren’t racing to introduce an online poker bill in Oregon. Unfortunately, that’s not likely to change anytime in the near future, but if internet gaming spreads wide enough across the US, particularly with interstate compacts in the mix, it could become a viable way for Oregon to generate more tax dollars down the road. The most probable cause for Oregon to legalize online poker would also include federal regulation, where state officials at least wouldn’t have to draft their own guidelines.

Online Poker Players from Oregon

There are countless online poker players logging onto offshore sites from their homes in Oregon, many who have achieved 6- and even 7-figure cashes over the years. Just a few of the most recognizable names include Troy “1Troy1” Stinnet, Kyle “bluffdeez503” / “Juantoo3fore” Zartman, Taylor “FortheNyugen” Black and Armand “TRUTH311” Alvarado.

Land-Based Card Rooms in Oregon

Oregon is home to 9 tribal casinos, most of which do offer live poker rooms of various sizes. A 10th Native American casino has been proposed for Cascade Locks, OR in the Columbia River Gorge, but has yet to be approved by the state.

Chinook Winds Casino
Location: Lincoln City, OR
Poker Room: Yes

Kah-Nee-Ta Indian Head Casino
Location: Warm Springs, OR
Poker Room: No

Kla-Mo-Ya Casino
Location: Chiloquin, OR
Poker Room: No

The Mill Casino Hotel
Location: North Bend, OR
Poker Room: Yes

Old Camp Casino
Location: Burns, OR
Poker Room: No

Seven Feathers Hotel & Casino Resort
Location: Canyonville, OR
Poker Room: Yes

Spirit Mountain Casino
Location: Grand Ronde, OR
Poker Room: Yes

Three Rivers Casino
Location: Florence, OR
Poker Room: Yes

Wildhorse Resort & Casino
Location: Pendleton, OR
Poker Room: Yes

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